Unusually for a bar in a hotel whose very name is dedicated to wine, it's the cocktails that are the talking point.
A place to stop off for a break during shopping expeditions in The Lanes or for a few civilised drinks in the evening, the Hotel du Vin Bar is just dark enough to relax and wallow in one of its big comfy sofas or armchairs. Outside, there is a courtyard area with seating and potted plants, which is overlooked by a decked balcony with more seating. However, the courtyard closes at 10.30pm due to guests' rooms being directly above. Hotel Du Vin is a chain with nine other venues in the UK and is about to take over the independently run and much loved Sussex Arts Club next door, the scene of many a rumoured Julie Burchill showdown.
Unexpectedly for a bar in Brighton, the Hotel du Vin Bar is wall to wall suits. The Hotel du Vin is generally popular with businessmen hence the suits but it's also a great place to go if you fancy getting dressed up for a night out. During the early part of the evening the bar is incredibly busy so if you're eating in the restaurant you're better off going to the bar after your meal when it will have emptied out a lot,leaving you with the undivided attention of the creative geniuses behind some of the best cocktails in Brighton.
The wine list is aptly impressive given the hotel's name and even if you dedicated a month to drinking your way through the list you'd be hard pressed to get to the end. However, it's the cocktails where the Hotel du Vin Bar really comes into its own. Even if you've drunk at some of the finest bars around the world you can't fail to be impressed by the level of dedication that's displayed by the bar staff who really earn their mixologists' stripes taking an exceptional amount of time and care creating the cocktails. The Mojitos in particularly are perfectly balanced and a definite must-try.
That said, a good selection of bottled beers and a massive range of spirits are also available if you prefer your drinks straight up and simple.
The Last Word
As you'd expect in a city like Brighton which is staunch in its support of independent bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels, the Hotel du Vin has come in for more than its fair share of criticism. However, anyone who remembers the cheap lager fuelled days of Bar Centro will be glad that Hotel du Vin has made the most of the sprawling building, and even the most cynical can't fail to be converted after a night spent sampling the cocktails.